Investigate from within
Dili Travel Blog› entry 73 of 86 › view all entries
April 23rd, 2010 – by: goezi
I started them as I have all my time off spent in Dili, by having breakfast up in the Esplanada cafe and staying there to work on my laptop. I had plenty to catch up on and I have big plans for the week so I knew I had to square things away.
A couple of days ago a woman was introduced to us by the NZ embassy staff. Kylie left London 25th April last year and has traveled alone (except for her bicycle) from there around the globe heading home to Christchurch. She has traveled through 19 countries and of course has plenty of stories that come from such an epic adventure. She knew Timor Leste was full of kiwi soldiers and cops so decided to swing up this way from Indonesia, to join us for the ANZAC ceremony on the 25th -Sunday.
My plan for this time off is to hire a motor cycle and immerse myself in the traffic that I have spent so much of the past year trying to manage, After lunch I walked down to Tiger fuel, did the deal and rode a brand new honda back to the Esplanada. US$100 for 5 days and a helmet that fits like a bucket on my head.
At the hotel I changed into my bathers, grabbed my snorkel, maskand Kylie and we headed out to Dili rock, where the snorkeling is meant to be very nice and there are no unfriendly crocodiles to eat you. (see review)
We spent about an hour in the water.
At the top I pointed out the newly excavated area down below us where the Chinese are doing a resort development, including a golf course. No work is going on at the moment because a few weeks ago they unearthed 9 bodies, men women and children, bound and buried in a shallow grave. The Australian war crime investigators are looking into it as the locals report this area as one of the main grave sights during the 25 year Indonesian occupation and they believe there will be 350-500 buried around here.
From here I took Kylie to another religious monument on the edges of the city. The Timorese are 98% Catholic so they have statues and religious monuments everywhere. This one is another I have visited previous and is dedicated to The Virgin Mary. The best thing about this place is the trip to it. Little lanes cut through a very poor part of the city, families play beside the road wearing short and bare feet. The old folk sit quietly under the porch in from of the corregated iron or bamboo shacks and they all smile and wave as the "mallai" ride slowly past on their shiny new honda. Timorese people are so gracious and friendly, I love that about this country. These people really couldn't do enough for their guests.
After winding up the steep road, dodging a few goats and some teens in search of some alone time we stopped for a short time at the monument before rolling back down the hill and heading to Banana Road to see what was happening there.
What we found was a huge cockfight. This is the main pastime of men at the end of the workday. The gambling is illegal but I have heard a winner can go home with $1000 and enough dead rooster to feed all 10-20 of his family for a couple of nights. I hadn't stopped to see one in the time I've been here but they have always been obvious because of the huge gatherings of men, many of whom lovingly cradel their champion under their arm.
As we made our way from the road were exchanged pleasantries with youngsters trying out their english. The stadium was packed with about 100 men focused on the drama in the ring. Cheers rose from the crowd occasionally but as we looked at the solid wall of backs I wasn't sure we'd get to see much.
I have to admit it was everything I thought it would be, except that it didn't end in death every time. Each fight began with an entry fee being paid by the men who would then face off for a bit of a cock tease. Once arousal was assured, weapons were drawn. This meant a sheath was actually removed from a small razor blade (about 2 inches) tied to one of the cock's legs. Handlers leapt away from the angry, knife wielding cocks and with neck feathers puffed the two birds flung themselves at each other like a couple of ninjas.
Each fight lasted about 2-3 minutes before a win was awarded. The one whole fight I saw ended when the dark bird stopped fighting and ran off like a chicken. Both cocks had suffered some pretty nasty chest wounds and I was surprised neither was killed as their blood squirted out onto the hard-packed dirt of the ring. Before the chicken was killed by the white (and red) rooster their handlers had scooped them up, cleaned off the razors and replaced the little cardboard sheath.
I doubt the champion would be fighting again tonight but I'm sure after a period of healing hed be back in the cock ring earning another fistful of cash for his proud owner.
After that I took Kylie to another well known site of death, Santa Cruz Cemetary.
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